Player Bios

GM Irina Krush

Title: 
Grandmaster
Rating: 
2489
Residence: 
Brooklyn, New York
Age: 
33
Status: 
Accepted
Chess Highlights: 
Irina Krush has won the U.S. Women’s Chess Championship seven times, although she placed 6th at last year’s Championship tournament. Her first win was in 1998 where she established herself as the youngest U.S. Women’s Champion ever at the age of 14. She has played on the U.S. national team in the Women's Chess Olympiad since 1998. Krush contributed to the U.S. team winning the silver medal in 2004 at the 36th Chess Olympiad, and later a bronze medal in 2008 at the 38th Chess Olympiad.
Bio: 

Irina Krush has earned the spot as the highest-rated competitor in this year’s tournament. She has entrenched herself as the figurehead to elite American women’s chess play by earning the title of Grandmaster in October 2013.

America's only active female GM says she doesn't spend much time contemplating her current chess success or failures -- "I'm more attached to my future accomplishments." Born in Odessa, USSR (now Ukraine) in 1983, Irina learned to play chess at age five, emigrating with her parents to Brooklyn that same year. Krush attended Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, where she participated in one of the top high-school chess teams in the country. It has been a rapid climb for Irina since then, including exceptional showings in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Chess Olympiads, as well as a gold-medal performance in the 2013 Women’s World Team Championship -- a result Krush called the best of her career. In addition to her chess studies, the 2008 Samford Chess Fellowship recipient enjoys tennis, reading, writing, yoga and music. Krush has a degree in international relations from NYU, though she is currently concentrating on chess. She said she enjoys the challenge of playing other Grandmasters most: "When you beat a strong GM, that's when you feel like you can play chess.

Krush graduated from New York University in 2006 with a degree in International Relations. She is also an author and has dedicated her time to writing several articles for Chess Life and uschess.org. Her article based on her experience earning her grandmaster norm in 2013 was named “Best of U.S. Chess.”

IM Anna Zatonskih

Title: 
International Master
Rating: 
2487
Residence: 
Hartsdale, NY
Age: 
38
Status: 
Accepted
Chess Highlights: 
Anna Zatonskih is a four-time U.S. Women’s Champion and three-time Ukrainian Women’s Champion, and she placed 3rd in last year’s U.S. Women’s Chess Championship. She also contributed to the success of the U.S. at the 36th, 37th, and 38th Chess Olympiads, where the U.S. placed 2nd, 4th, and 3rd respectively. In 2008 she beat the defending U.S. Women's Champion, Irina Krush, by a single second under time control, a moment that has been widely viewed on the Internet because of Krush's reaction of smacking her king across the room in anger.
Bio: 

Zatonskih was born in Maripol, Ukraine and immigrated to the U.S. in 2004.  In 2009, Zatonskih won the U.S. Women's Championship with a dominating score of 8.5/9, but she ran into stiff competition in 2010 against her longtime nemesis IM Irina Krush. Zatonskih recaptured the title in 2011 with a gutsy and grueling performance. Including the tiebreak and playoff matches, she played 19 games of chess over a two-week period to win the 2011 U.S. Women's title. In 2012, Zatonskih suffered a heartbreaking loss in a playoff match against Krush, who went on to win the event.  


Outside of chess, Anna has a variety of interests from bicycling to ping pong to scuba diving. She even played an underwater match while in scuba gear on a giant board. The game couldn't go longer than 50 minutes, but she played to a draw. Coached by her husband, German Grandmaster Daniel Fridman, Anna comes into the tournament in the hopes of securing her fifth title. She has been playing chess since she was five years old.

IM Nazi Paikidze

Title: 
International Master
Rating: 
2408
Residence: 
Las Vegas, NV
Age: 
23
Status: 
Accepted
Chess Highlights: 
Nazi Paikidze holds the title for 2016 U.S. Women’s Champion. At the age of 9, Paikidze won her first international tournament at the 2003 European Youth Chess Championship. In 2009 at the age of 16, she was ranked 35th among the world’s top FIDE-rated women. Since 2003, she has won 12 medals in the European Youth Chess Championships, World Youth Chess Championships, and World Junior Chess Championships combined.
Bio: 

Paikidze was born in Irkutsk, Russia and has been playing chess since she was four years old. Even at an early age, it was clear Paikidze would soon become a powerhouse player. Raised in Tbilisi, Georgia, Paikidze quickly collected prolific wins at the highest levels of international youth chess play. By the time she was 16, Paikidze had won four European Youth Chess Championships and medaled in the World Youth Chess Championship an astounding six times, including two gold-medal finishes.

In 2006, Paikidze moved with her family to Moscow, Russia, which allowed her to participate in Russian tournaments. While she continued to represent Georgia in international events, she seized the initiative to combat some of Russia’s best, winning both the Moscow Women’s Championship and the Moscow’s Open Women Tournament, and finishing fourth in the Russian Women’s Chess Championship. With continuous strong play, Nazi achieved her Women’s Grandmaster title in 2010 and her International Master in 2012.

Nazi transferred to the USCF last November after recently moving to the U.S., where she now currently studies Information Systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She is a major asset to the traditionally powerhouse UMBC chess program, one of the Final Four schools of collegiate chess to compete in the 2015 President’s Cup. In 2016, she started teaching lessons on ChessUniversity.com's Prodigy Program chess course.

Nazi Paikidze has a strong stance in activism in women’s rights in chess tournaments, and announced in October 2016 that she intends to boycott the Women's World Chess Championship 2017 in Tehran, Iran due to its hijab dress code. She has been quoted saying, “I will not wear a hijab and support women’s oppression, even if it means missing one of the most important competitions of my career.” She has received over 15,000 signatures on a petition regarding this regulation, including support from the United Stated Chess Federation and other prominent members in the chess community such as Nigel Short and Garry Kasparov.

WGM Tatev Abrahamyan

Title: 
Women's Grandmaster
Rating: 
2402
Residence: 
Glendale, CA
Age: 
29
Status: 
Accepted
Chess Highlights: 
2011 and 2004 U.S. Women's Championship Runner-Up; 2008 and 2005 U.S. Women's Chess Championship Third Place; 2006 Pan-Am U18 (Perfect Score), 2nd Place at the 2016 U.S. Women’s Chess Championships.
Bio: 

Tatev Abrahamyan started playing chess at 8 after her father took her to the Chess Olympiad games in 1996. There she met Grandmaster Judit Polgar, arguably the greatest woman player of all time and the only woman in the tournament. "I was in complete awe," Tatev said. "My first thought was, 'I want to be just like her.'" She was soon playing competitively among the top players her age in Europe and has played in the U.S. Women's Chess Championship eight times.

But becoming a top chess player has not been easy. "The main problem is balancing school with chess. Even though college is the number one priority for me, I usually take time off to play in major events, like this one." When she is not studying or playing chess, she likes to read, play tennis, travel, watch movies and hang out with friends.

Another big challege for Tatev was moving to the U.S. rom Armenia in 2001. In fact, she said: "It was the biggest change in my life, and it happened in a very short period of time. Everything in my life changed in a matter of few months. I had to give up everything I knew and start a new life. Even though I have lived here for some time now, it was a very big adjustment, and I think a continuous one."

Tatev is a formidable competitor. At the 2010 U.S. Women's Championship she played her heart out to a fantastic 7/9 score, which would usually be enough to net first place, but actually put her in a tie for second place, half a point behind Irina Krush. Tatev's strong play and fighting qualities in 2010 earned her the 9 Queens/goddess chess fighting spirit award, which was selected by former Women's World Champion, Alexandra Kosteniuk.

At the 2011 U.S. Women's Championship, Tatev turned in a remarkable performance, falling just short to Anna Zatonskih in the playoff finals to finish in second place. That same year, Abrahamyan graduated from California State University Long Beach with a double-major in psychology and political science.

WGM Katerina Nemcova

Title: 
Women's Grandmaster
Rating: 
2397
Residence: 
Saint Louis, MO
Age: 
26
Status: 
Accepted
Chess Highlights: 
2008 and 2010 Czech Women's Champion; 2008 European Youth Championship; 2007 World Youth Championship (2nd place); Gold Medalist at 2007 European Women's Team Championship, 4th place at the 2016 U.S. Women’s Chess Championship, and 3rd place in the 2015 U.S. Chess Championship.
Bio: 

WGM Katerina Nemcova is a Prague-born, Czech chess champion who attends the University of Texas-Brownsville as a senior in Communications. Learning to play at age four, she won her national youth championship in eight different age categories on her ascent, topping out in 2008 as the Czech Women’s Champion and earning the title again in 2010.

Nemcova is the product of a complete chess-playing family, the third of seven siblings, all of whom were taught chess and fueled by chess-playing parents.  Four Nemcova girls, including Katerina, have earned Czech youth champion titles.

“My father always had us all practice together, it was always a nice family moment - not just like ‘practice,’ but always a lot of fun with my siblings,” Nemcova said. “I’ve always had my best performances in team events - I just feel like more people is more fun, the collectiveness of the whole event. I’m used to fighting together with my siblings; I like people around.”

She has represented the Czech Republic in a team event every year since 2007, a three-time Olympic (2008, 2010, 2012) player, and a gold-medalist as the second board at the European Women's Team Championship in 2007. There, she earned 7.5 out of 9 points, the highest score of the event and her highest performance rating ever: 2548.

Individually, Nemcova found her international stride after a second-place showing in the 2007 World Youth Championship (Kemer-Antalya, Turkey), following up with a win at the 2008 European Youth Chess Championship after entering as the highest-rated girl U18. She also earned her WGM title in 2008.

Nemcova joined the chess team at UT-Brownsville in 2011 where she has since competed as a collegiate player. She switched federations in 2013 and enters the 2014 U.S. Women’s Championship as the 11th-ranked female player in the nation. The 24-year-old is a dangerous addition to the field: With six norms already collected toward her IM title, but struggling to find the consistency to surpass the 2400 rating barrier, Nemcova is a consistent lurker who several times in her career has exploded out of plateaus with dramatic performances. She is currently attending Webster Universtiy where she is a member of the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence program.

WGM Sabina Foisor

Title: 
Women's Grandmaster
Rating: 
2324
Residence: 
Lubbock, TX
Age: 
27
Status: 
Accepted
Chess Highlights: 
Multiple Romania girls youth champion; 2004 Multiple Romanian and European champion in blitz and rapid; finished in top 20 at European Chess Championship in 2007, qualifying her for the World Chess Championship. She placed 5th in the 2016 U.S. Women’s Chess Championship, and 8th in the 2015 U.S. Women’s Chess Championship.
Bio: 

Sabina Foisor has been a chess dynamo since starting around age 4. While her parents have been her biggest chess influence, she says her favorite players are Gary Kasparov and the late Bobby Fischer. Like many players, she has traveled the globe playing in tournaments, and she has participated in each of the past four U.S. Women's Championships (2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009). 2013 will mark her fifth appearance. Her main goal in chess is to become one of the top 20 women players in the world.

When not playing or training for chess, she likes to travel, read books, watch movies and hang out with friends. "Of course I can manage to balance chess with other things," she says. She has many heroes outside of chess, including her family, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton and Sigmund Freud. After listing those three she added, "I will stop here because the list would be too large."

One of her biggest challenges was moving to the U.S. to study at University of Maryland at Baltimore County, which has a strong chess program. Indeed, UMBC won the 2009 U.S. national collegiate title. At UMBC Foisor studies psychology, modern language and linguistics.

WGM Anna Sharevich

Title: 
Women's Grandmaster
Rating: 
2297
Residence: 
Saint Louis, MO
Age: 
31
Status: 
Accepted
Chess Highlights: 
Anna Sharevich made her first attempt at securing the national title in the 2015 U.S. Women’s Chess Championship, where she ultimately placed 5th. A native of Brest, Belarus and a prolific champion of the Ladies’ Belarusian Chess Championship (2002, 2005, 2007, 2011), Sharevich has long-established herself as a fierce competitor on elite levels of chess competition. Receiving her WGM title in 2006 at 21 years old, Sharevich has continued to improve her play after immigrating to the U.S. and grown accustomed to living far from home.
Bio: 

Now living in Saint Louis, MO, Sharevich has played for both the Lindenwood and Webster University Chess teams, and recently put together an impressive showing in December’s 2014 and 2015 Pan American Intercollegiate Championship. This past year also saw Anna selected for her first Chess Olympiad -- for team U.S.A. -- already boasting a great deal of experience in Olympiad play, having contributed to the Belarusian team in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012. Sharevich also was a member of the Saint Louis Arch Bishops, the 2014 champions of the U.S. Chess League.

WIM Jennifer Yu

Title: 
Women's International Master
Rating: 
2283
Residence: 
Ashburn, VA
Age: 
15
Status: 
Accepted
Chess Highlights: 
WIM Jennifer Yu is currently ranked 15th in the world in the female 16 and under active player category. She was well on her way to chess stardom after earning gold medal at the 2014 World Youth Chess Championship in South Africa -- the only U.S. gold in the event and the first world title for an American girl since 1987. She placed 8th at the 2016 U.S. Women’s Chess Championship, and 12th in the 2015 U.S. Women’s Chess Championship.
Bio: 

Yu was born in Ithaca, New York and started playing chess in first grade, attending an after-school chess class. After the school finished its chess sessions, Yu wanted to continue her interest and asked her parents to find a coach. This simple request launched Yu’s chess career. They took her to group chess lessons and tournaments for kids, but didn’t realize how talented she was until that coach informed them.

Today, the 15-year-old lives in Ashburn, Virginia and is a pretty typical tenth-grader, aside from her immense chess talent.  Her well-rounded interests include playing the flute and piano, listening to music, drawing, and playing sports. She becomes a better player through competition in tournaments where she can think through difficult challenges as she encounters them.

Yu holds a FIDE rating of 2196 and has participated in three World Youth Chess Championships. At age 10, she came in 11th place at the 2012 World Youth Championship in Slovenia, and in 2013 she placed fourth in the United Arab Emirates.

Apurva Virkud

Title: 
Women's FIDE Master
Rating: 
2268
Residence: 
Troy, Michigan
Age: 
18
Status: 
Accepted
Chess Highlights: 
When Apurva Virkud learned the game from her first-grade teacher, she was hooked. She took a few classes, joined chess clubs and became Michigan’s Individual Children’s Champion for 4th and 5th Grade by age 11. Virkud placed 9th at the 2015 U.S. Women’s Chess Championship at 16 years old. From Troy, MI, Virkud holds a FIDE rating of 2127 and already has many championship wins under her belt, including the 2011 Susan Polgar Girls’ Invitational Chess Tournament in Lubbock, Texas with a perfect 6-0 score. She also tied for first place at the first National Girls’ Invitational in Madison, Wisconsin in 2013, and last July tied for first in the U.S. Girls Junior Invitational. "I like the problem-solving aspect of chess. It opened up so many opportunities for me, and I've traveled to many countries and met some great friends through chess," said Virkud, who has traveled as far as Turkey and Brazil for international competitions.
Bio: 

For fun, Virkud enjoys playing the violin and piano, reading and spending time with friends. She is planning to go to college to study engineering, but will keep professional chess-playing in mind.  Her practice schedule is made up of one hour per day during the school year, and four hours per day over the summer. She currently lives in Michigan.

Maggie Feng

Title: 
National Master
Rating: 
2258
Residence: 
Columbus, OH
Age: 
16
Status: 
Accepted
Chess Highlights: 
NM Maggie Feng finished the tournament with a score of 6.5/7 and became the first girl in history to win the K-9 U.S. Junior High School Championship. She now finds herself in company of other previous winners of the K-9 Championship, including Fabiano Caurana and Hikaru Nakamura.
Bio: 

Maggie Feng lives in Ohio with her family.

Emily Nguyen

Title: 
Women's International Master
Rating: 
2250
Residence: 
Austin, Texas
Age: 
14
Status: 
Accepted
Chess Highlights: 
Nguyen placed 1st in the 2016 U.S. Junior Girls Championship with 6.5/9. Emily is currently ranked 12th in the world in the female 16 and under active player category.
Bio: 

Emily Nguyen currently resides in Texas with her family.

Carissa Yip

Title: 
Women's FIDE Master
Rating: 
2234
Residence: 
Boston, MA
Age: 
13
Status: 
Accepted
Chess Highlights: 
WFM Carissa Yip placed 9th at the 2016 U.S. Women’s Chess Championship at just 12 years old. Yip is the youngest competitor in the 2017 U.S. Women’s Chess Championship.
Bio: 

At just 13 years of age, Carissa Yip has quickly become one of the top female players in America. Known for her creativity over the board, she enters the tournament with a rating of 2234.

Yip has been on a record-shattering pace ever since she learned how to play the game from her father at age 6. Three years later, at age 9, she became the youngest ever to reach the title of Expert.

Two years later she broke the record for youngest female to achieve the title of National Master at the age of 11 years, 5 months, and 18 days -- breaking the record previously held by Annie Wang. Along the way to Master, she set the record for youngest female player to beat a Grandmaster for her win against GM Alexander Ivanov in the New England Open a few days before her 11th birthday.

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